Hydearabad: While Telangana government has barred the reporters from entering the BRK Bhavan, the temporary secretariat, the Andhra Pradesh government, moving a step further, has given a new lease of life to an old and once-shelved draconian GO off issued in 2007 to prosecute the journalists who carry “defamatory news”.

Andhra  Pradesh chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who loves to prove he is his father’s son,  has empowered all departmental secretaries to initiate legal action on the news stories allegedly written with malafide interest, in Print, Electronic and Social media.

 The cabinet which met Yesterday has reportedly approved a note submitted on the need to rein-in the hostile media in the state.

A GO is expected to be issued in a couple of days.

Through the controversial GO (MS No 938 GA (Poll-B) issued on 20.02.2007 under a title Media Watch, Jagan’s  father had authorized the special commissioner, Information and Public Relations (I&PR) to file defamation cases against the errant media persons  and outlets by appointing a special public prosecutor.

Jagan now has borrowed the same logic and justification which his father had put forth to gag the media.

The   then YSR government had justified the GO MS 938 by stating that it was only exercising the powers conferred on it under the sub-section (4) section of 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Hell broke loose in Assembly when entre opposition took up the matter and chief minister Rajasekhar Reddy feigned ignorance of the GO. However, buckling under the pressure from all sections, YSR had to announce that the GO had been shelved.

The GO was obviously meant to curb all-powerful Ramoji Rao of Eenadu group who, of course, was openly promoting the interests of TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu.

But such a drastic measure against the media cannot be expected of a chief minister as young as Jagan, who has a long road ahead.

The hasty cabinet decision is seen as the direct fall out of the order of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which set aside the ban the Jagan government imposed on two news channels ABN Andhra Jyothy and  TV5 recently.

 A note placed before the cabinet meeting chaired by Jagan himself, yesterday cleared referred to the GO issued by the then YSR government and sought delegation of powers to departmental secretaries to take  legal action on what it called  defamatory news spread with malafide interest.

Also,the proposal sought to authorize all secretaries  to initiate legal action within 24 hours against the media organization for carrying the “defamatory” news.

The note, which was approved by the cabinet, proposed “to empower all departmental secretaries to file appropriate court cases through public prosecutor against defamatory news item published /appeared/posted in print, electronic social media.”

The cabinet note proposed by the I&PR minister Perni Venkataramaiah ( Nani) justified the proposal by stating that, “ The adverse news item(s) published/telecast/posted will bring down the morale of the implementing agency/Department/Officer, which ultimately would lead to sub-optimal performance of the department and can hamper the progress of the state.”

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a Hyderabad based journalist. He covered the entire spectrum of political activities of Telugu states from Hyderabad and New Delhi for about 3 decades. He represented Vaartha in New Delhi during the most happening decade of 1996-2006. He was political correspondent of Times of India from Hyderabad for 10 years. He was editor of Asianet’s Telugu digital platform. He contributed to many digital media outlets such as Al Jazeera, News 18, Newsable, South Post, The Lede ,Down to Earth etc. He is known for his Anthropological approach in the news analysis. He studied Physical Anthropology and prehistoric archaeology with Human population genetics as specialization, and his area of interest is Political Anthropology and Media Anthropology.

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